Chapter Forty-Six

Binns Road, Liverpool

February 12


Dot slumps down on the side of the mattress and takes a breather. She has been hard at work ever since the man dropped off food and hot coffee early this morning. It was something of a surprise considering how outspoken she had been yesterday. She had fully expected to be starved as a punishment after challenging him to a fight when he had threatened her with his nasty-looking knife. Whether she would have gone through with it is another matter. It’s all very well doing the karate moves in a gym but to deliver them for real knowing that they could really disable, if not kill him, is a different matter. And he just might have delivered one fatal thrust in the process.

   She had difficulty stopping the trembling last night. She had wrapped her coat around herself and fallen asleep in a sitting position and woken at 2:00am with a headache. She had gulped down water, lay on the mattress and fallen into a troubled sleep.

   She awoke at the sound of the lock on her door being pushed back and the man had strode in without a word, placed packages on the table and walked quicky out without even looking in her direction. The door had banged shut and the lock drawn back as she slowly heaved herself off the mattress and walked over to the table. There were two packs of sandwiches, a couple of apples, two Bounty bars, a flask of coffee and a bottle of water.

   She had stared at the feast and smiled. The room was warm too. The heating was obviously on again. She decides to have one of the sandwiches for breakfast. The choice was ham, cheese and tomato or egg and bacon. She decides on the latter and as she munches her way through it, she hears the front door closing.

   She is going to set to work on the second bar today. If she works hard, she may even finish it. She walks over to the window. She can hear a lot of voices outside. It must be Meccano workers turning up. She wonders if her lipstick marks are still there. He surely must have spotted them by now and wiped them off. She wonders if he has connected them to her. He hasn’t mentioned them so far. Maybe he will later.

   She retrieves her nail from under the mattress and looks at the second bar. It’s not quite as rusty as the first. She knows he will be back at some point today with a tape recorder and that she will have to somehow tap a finger on the table without him noticing. She had practiced it yesterday and she will again a bit later.

-… .. -. -. …  .-. — .- -.. spells out Binns Road. Its success depends on whether someone is observant enough to notice.

   And in the meantime, she gets to work on the iron bar.

It is mid-afternoon that Dot hears the front door closing so she quickly hides the nail and spreads out the little mound of mortar that has fallen on the floor. She looks at her work and is satisfied. The bottom of the second bar is in view. She will free it with one more session.

   Ten minutes later her door bursts open and he walks over to the table and places a cassette recorder on it. He holds out a script. She glares at him and reads the message he wants her to record.

Hello Keith. It’s me Dot. I am being held prisoner. Obviously, I am not allowed to say where. All you need to know is that I am being treated well. He wants you to know that I will be freed as soon as you publish an apology in the papers saying you were wrong to publish what you did and that he is innocent of the charges brought against him. It was not his fault the products were faulty. If you don’t comply, he says my life will become very unpleasant. You are to let him know by midnight tomorrow by leaving a message on the noticeboard outside St Barnabas Church, Penny lane.

‘Would you like to sit at the table to record it?’ he asks. Dot stares at him. Is he insane? All this drama just to get an apology. Is that really worth a jail sentence or could there be more to it than that; something he hasn’t revealed. She wonders if he has the knife somewhere. She could jab him in the solar plexus and make a run for it. He appears to read her mind and smiles, reaching behind him to produce the knife which he points at her.

   ‘Don’t even think it,’ he whispers sibilantly. His face close to hers and the knife at her throat.

   She decides she has no choice but to go along with. ‘Once you have recorded it, I have a reward waiting for you,’ he says.

   She doesn’t respond but sits at the table and begins gently drumming the fingers of her right hand on its surface. ‘I’m ready,’ she says holding the sheet of paper and continuing the drumming.

   ‘Hello Keith. -… It’s me Dot. I am being held prisoner .. Obviously, I am not allowed to say where -. -. All you need to know is that I am being treated well He wants you to know that I will be freed as soon as you publish an apology in the papers saying you were wrong to publish what you did and that he is innocent of the charges brought against him .-. It was not his fault the products were faulty If you don’t comply, he says my life will become very unpleasant.- You are to let him know by midnight tomorrow by leaving a message on the noticeboard outside St Barnabas Church, Penny lane -..

   When she has finished reading, she continues to drum on the tabletop and pushes the paper towards him, not looking at him. ‘You happy now?’ she says resting her head in her hands.

   He takes the cassette out and nods. She does her best to hide her glee. He obviously isn’t going to listen to it before sending it. She had been afraid of him spotting the change in the tapping which he could well have done. Equally, it is that very change that she hopes that Keith or Lamplight will spot and realise that it is Morse.

  Mr Trilby has left the room and she is left staring at the window wishing she could get back to work but she knows that would be too risky while he is still in the house.

   She can hear footsteps outside which stop at her door. She sits bolt upright. He must have discovered her code and is coming to mete out some punishment. She can feel her heart begin beating fast apprehensively.

  He unlocks the door and walks towards her holding a package which he places solemnly on the table. ‘Enjoy! He says and walks out. Dot unwraps the package. It is a roast chicken which smells delicious. In another package there are roast potatoes and she also finds a flask of coffee and a bottle of beer.

   The smell of the chicken makes her realise just how hungry she is. She finds a plastic knife and fork and begins tucking in. He was as good as his word. He promised a reward and here it is.

   As she eats, she reviews the situation. She obviously cannot depend on anyone noticing her Morse code any more than she could depend on the lipstick. They were both worth a try. She was sure the lipstick would cause some local comment. How come it hasn’t worked? Could it mean that it simply wasn’t seen by the right people? It would need somebody to tell the police and that obviously hasn’t happened, or if it has happened, they must have chosen to ignore it.

   She must assume that the same will happen to her message on the tape which means that she must continue with her escape plan. In fact, there is now a greater urgency because Mr Trilby is going to give Keith a deadline. How will Keith respond? She knows he has no intention of apologising so what then?

   She doubts that Mr Trilby will kill her but if he suddenly decided to, she would have no choice but to put her karate skills to a real test. No, it is far more likely that he will starve her. The meal she is enjoying could well be her last for some time.

   She realises she now has a timetable to complete the work of freeing the iron bars. If he hands the tape to Keith today and gives him 24 hours to comply that gives her, at the very most, 48 hours to escape through the window.

   She hears the front door slamming. She stops eating and decides top save the rest of the chicken until later.

   She retrieves the nail and gets to work.

Published by pod1942

I am a cereer journalist having worked for the London Dail Mail, Reuters and latterly the Liverpool Daily Post on Merseyside as well as the journalists’ leader in the region. I have experience as a crime reporter, feature writer, business editor and latterly, a senior sub-editor. My qualifications include a BA (Hons) English, from the University of Liverpool; a BA (Hons) Fine Art and an MA in Creative Practice both from Liverpool Hope University. I now divide my time between art and writing. I will shortly be publishing my first full-length novel, The Poseidon Files and as a taster I have written a short story which features the same central female character in which she talks about her world and her life. It is, however, essentially a ghost story.

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